It’s a wonderful thing when you stumble across a band and you find an instant connection with their music. I had the pleasure of this when I happened upon the body’s 2014 album I Shall Die Here. Intrigued by the 1970’s starkness of the album cover, a mix of philosophical sci-fi coupled with the nihilistic title I was coloured intrigued. It was a dispiritedly brilliant work filled with noise, drone, feedback and vocals that sounded like the tortured ramblings of a mass murderer. I loved it.
Now the body have returned to ruin our lives with their follow up (they released a joint album with Thou last year, but this is a proper follow up); No One Deserves Happiness. An apt title if ever there was one.
Instantly striking in the new work is frequent collaborator Chrissy Wolpert’s vocals at the forefront of the music. Earlier albums have seen the body engage in ode’s to pain and suffering through Chip King’s shrieks and screams and Lee Buford’s treated keys which make Lou Reed’s Metal Machine Music sound pleasant. It’s music that can be physically uncomfortable to listen to at times. Feedback and guitars are pitched to a tinnitus inducing level and King’s vocals can be deeply unsettling.
Opening song ‘Wanderings’ kicks things off in the most unexpected way. A simple drum beat and then Wolpert’s choir-like vocals flowing in. It’s a million miles from the cacophony of noise usually expected with the group. It’s a testament to the duo’s continued progression as musicia… oh and there’s the doom guitar and shrieking vocals. Hooray.
‘Shelter is Illusory’ manages to combines the ear-bleeding feedback and newly acquired fondness for rhythm with some tribal drums. It’s a strange hybrid of hip-hop beat, Wolpert’s soaring vocals and sludge guitars. Two songs in and the band show themselves as musicians who refuse to be pigeon-holed. ‘Shelter’ is one of those rare songs where even on the first listen your love for it grows with every passing second.
‘For You’, it’s the most wretched love letter ever created. A three minute noise-out of destruction. ‘Hallow/Hollow’ feature some of the biggest sounding drums I’ve heard in a good long while. It’s an expansive sounding song with quiet moments of menace. It’s a rare song for the body that may have been improved without King’s vocals. Unique as they are sometimes they sound out of place. They’re much more welcome on ‘Two Snakes’ which does actually sound like they’ve brought a choir in. Again there’s a genre-mix-up-frenzy happening. A chorus of voices, an electronic drum, revving guitars, it’s a weirdly funky freak-out.
Wolpert returns to front ‘Adamah’, a song that any fan of Chelsea Wolfe’s mix of industrial and sweeping vocals will enjoy. Wolpert at times has the range of Ute Lemper, reaching devastatingly high notes. It’s a deceptively simple song but manages to sound huge all the same. Buford’s uses his synths used with a eerie aplomb. ‘Starving Deserter’ sounds like the most it wouldn’t have been out of place on I Shall Die Here. Sparse drums, drone and doom.
The closing trio ‘The Fall and the Guilt’, ‘Prescience’ and ‘The Myth Arc’ quieten things done somewhat. The drones disappear and there’s a rhythm to the songs that wouldn’t sound out of place on Twin Peaks. ‘The Myth Arc’ particularly stands out as a quietley haunting song. Wolbert’s vocals hover beautifully as the bands music crumbles all around her, slowly fading away until that last sound is a soft chant. Like the end of huge battle scene everything lays in ruins.
No One Deserves Happiness is a massive achievement. Combining so many genres with seeming ease stands the group out as one of the more fascinating bands working at the moment. If you can adjust your ears to the vocal pain there’s so much to enjoy in here. No One Deserves Happiness should be on many people’s Best of Year lists come December.
No One Deserves Happiness is available now.
4.5 / 5